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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Supreme Court Battle We Didn't Lose

J. Christian Adams is not upset by yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that struck down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. Adams served in the DOJ's civil rights division and is familiar with the ongoing battles surrounding election law. According to Adams we won 80% of the case.
Worse, conservatives dooms-dayers who have never litigated a single National Voter Registration Act case have taken to the airwaves, describing the case as a disaster which invites illegal-alien voting.
In the last year, I’ve litigated five NVRA cases and worked on the preemption issues for years, and there is more to cheer in today’s opinion than there is to bemoan. Those complaining about the opinion don’t understand what the Left’s goal was in this case: total federal preemption. On that score, Justice Scalia foiled them; indeed, the decision today was a huge war won, even if the small Arizona battle was lost.
As Adams sees it, it was a win for state rights as total federal preemtion of state voting laws the motive behind the case. He spells out what the left hoped to acheive;
Invalidation of Arizona’s requirement that those submitting a federal form provide proof of citizenship with their federal form. Mind you, the citizenship-proof requirement is NOT part of federal law and the Election Assistance Commission does NOT require it in the form they drafted.

Invalidation of state citizenship-verification requirements when a state voter registration form is used (yes, such forms exist separate from the federal requirement) on the basis of federal preemption. They wanted the Arizona case to invalidate all state citizenship-verification requirements.

Automatic registration if a registrant submits a completed federal EAC approved registration form, no questions asked.

Federal preemption on the ability for states to have customized federal EAC-approved forms that differed from the default EAC form.

Federal preemption over states, like Florida and Kansas, looking for independent information on citizenship to root out noncitizens from the voter rolls. Again, the Left wanted the federal EAC form to be the no-questions-asked ticket to the voter rolls.
Most importantly Adams points out that the states, by virtue of this opinion are free to check the applicants' citizenship status no matter how the citizenship question is answered on EAC form. It's nice to have a smart lawyer on our side.

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